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​Book and Author program helps Craig graduates continue to learn

May 04, 2016

For a quarter of a century, the Denver Alumnae Association of the Kappa Kappa Gammas has hosted a Book and Author Dinner with most of the proceeds benefiting the Craig Hospital Alumni Scholarship Fund. The association, founded in 1870, is one of the largest in the nation with more than 400 members in the Denver metro and surrounding areas.

Over the years, the group has hosted more than 80 notable authors, including Rick Reilly, Lisa See and Mary Theobald in 2014. Through these popular events, the association has donated nearly $1 million and funded more than 900 Craig Alumni scholarships.

Kappa event chair Barb Goettelman says the Book and Author Dinner held Nov. 6, 2014, drew 348 attendees and raised more than $20,000. She says partnering with the world-renowned Craig Hospital is an obvious choice because Craig is making a positive difference every day.

“We feel it is important to give to Craig to support the amazing work and lives that are touched daily and to help lift up, and empower brain and spinal cord injured patients. Craig’s mission, vision and forward focus to empower a lifetime of success is exactly what we as Kappas are all about,” says Goettelman.

Scholarships are used for tuition and books at institutions of higher education throughout the U.S.

In the early 1990s, Michael Laden applied for and received the scholarship. Laden was a real estate developer whose projects included the Cherry Creek redevelopment in the 1980s. In 1990, on a trip to California to attend a wedding, he was in an auto-pedestrian hit-and-run accident that put him in a coma for a week and left him with a traumatic brain injury.

During his rehabilitation at Craig Hospital, he had to learn to walk, read, write—even how to brush his teeth. By the time he graduated as an outpatient, he was ready to test his limits.

“I took Therapeutic Recreation classes at the University of Colorado-Denver. I wasn’t going for a degree; I just wanted to take a class to test my comprehension, and it showed me what I needed to work on.”

He went on to attend firefighter training and served 11 years as a volunteer with the Golden Fire Department, earning various certifications in firefighting, hazardous materials, swift water rescue, ice rescue, emergency medical training, first responder and more.

As a “volunteer at large,” Laden has contributed time and service to Craig Hospital, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the National Sports Center for the Disabled and St. Anthony’s Hospital.

“I am thoroughly appreciative for the opportunity to use the scholarship. It was very nice that the Kappa Kappa Gammas built the scholarship and that Craig Hospital let me use it,” says Laden.